Paul: My name is Paul Economides, I’m Super Bantamweight National Masters British Champion. I’ve won the WBF International title and also the WBF Intercontinental title, and that’s the title I’m defending on September 12th at Aintree Racecourse. It’s the biggest bill I’ve ever fought on, the under card of Roy Jones Jr, who is such a legend in boxing terms. He is the only guy ever to go from middleweight and win a world title, and go to heavyweight and win a world title. I’m looking forward to it.
Rob: OK Paul, you’ve just touched on Roy Jones Jr there, you’re on the under card for that , you’ve said the biggest fight of your career, a title you’re defending against Ghana’s number one ranked Prosper Ankrah, what are your feelings on Prosper before you’ve gone into this fight ?
Paul: I’ve looked at his record, but I’ve not seen a lot of him, the footage I’ve seen of him is against Carl Frampton, he is world number one in my weight division at the moment, and he took him out in two rounds. It would be a huge statement if I could do something similar, I’m not looking to do that, I’m looking to go out there and get the win. If you study his record properly, everyone he’s beaten are guys that are middle of the road. The guys he stepped up to that are world class, he seems to get beat by. I want prove that I’m at the world class level now.
Rob: So, both fighters have improved over the years. You’ve seen the meteoric rise of Carl Frampton. Over the last 18 months you’ve picked yourself up from a couple of defeats, is that something that you’re trying to take forward with this fight on the 12th September?
Paul: I believe now that I’m in the best form I’ve ever been in. The last guy that actually beat me, I’ve been sparring with him, and he can’t believe the difference in me. It’s a massive confidence booster to me. The fight against Gavin McDonnell, who is now European Champion, I still believe I won that fight. I have watched it so many times, I still don’t know how he beat me. At the end of the fight he actually said he thought he’d lost the fight as well. I’ve asked for a rematch with him, but I’d be very surprised if I ever get that fight. So let’s focus on the 12th and hopefully build from that.
Rob: I’ve watched that fight on YouTube as well, there were a few rounds where you were very unlucky to drop points. What has driven you on to pick yourself up from those defeats to now four wins on the bounce?
Paul: I’d like to say that it’s because I have a daughter – so maybe that’s the motivation! I don’t know, I’ve stuck to my training, Steve Goodwin, my trainer, is one of the most dedicated trainers, I’ve ever seen in the boxing game, and he’s here every day, with him sticking to what we believe, something has clicked and it’s paying off now.
Rob: You look at the rankings and you are in the top eight now, the British rankings. One big thing that’s popped up over the last few months is the fight you could have had with Lewis Pettitt. What are your thoughts and feelings at not having a stab at the Commonwealth title which he now has lined up another opponent?
Paul: It’s basically politics. They are so looked after, especially the likes of Pettitt, to sell plenty of tickets, make so much money, why take a risky fight? That’s boxing for you. I know the amount of money he makes for Mr Frank Warren, so why would they want me to take a 50/50 fight against someone, like me, who could walk away with their title. Instead he’s fighting a guy, no disrespect to him, who’s not on my level, he should be beating him easily. They’re trying to build it up like he’s fighting someone decent. I want to fight the best out there. To be the best you’ve got to beat the best. I wish we could do a super six, me, Lewis Pettitt, James Dickens, Gavin McDonnell, we should all be fighting each other, let’s see who the best of British is! It’s not happening though.
Rob: Do you think that the gap between yourself and Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg – those guys are making names for themselves around the world – with your fights from the last 18 months you have proved to yourself you can be challenging them and do you think people should be looking at you seriously? You’ve gone part time with your job to give yourself more time to train…
Paul; 100%. If I beat Ankrah, it will shoot me up the ranks. People will start to take me seriously. I’ve sunk the last four fights within 2 rounds. Isaac Quaye, had never been stopped before, and I’m the first person to stop him. He is rated well above me. I was out there enjoying myself, I took him out in two rounds.
Rob: You mentioned earlier about the birth of your daughter being something you’re fighting for. Has that changed you a person? You look at a lot of films, including Southpaw that’s come out recently, is that something a lot of people miss out on, in terms of how determined a person can be, to fight for their own family, and for life?
Paul: Boxing is my career, my life, my job. I want to provide for my family.
Rob: What has she given you, in terms of going into the ring?
Paul: You’re not just fighting for yourself, you’re fighting for your family, the pressure rises a little bit, and it makes you a bit hungrier.
Rob: What was the initial reason you decided you wanted to get into boxing?
Paul: I started at a very young age. Believe it or not, I was well over weight as a kid. Being good at nothing, to all of a sudden being good at something. I fell in love with the sport, within a year, year and a half, I was winning amateur titles. I went from strength to strength, my style suited being a pro. I started out in Shotton, but as a pro I knew I had to come to Steve Goodwin.
Rob: What sort of age was that?
Paul: I was four-time national champion as an amateur. From 18-19, I was mixing it up with the best, I started mixing it up with professional fighters. I went over to the pros, I was 20-21 when I took my first pro fight. The pace is a little bit slower, but it is longer rounds, it’s different, you’re going to get hurt. The amateur boxing is more of a sprint.
Rob: Youngsters seem to get into the sport when they’ve watched the Olympics. Amir Khan was the shining light for boxing in general back in 2004, James DeGale and now Anthony Joshua after London 2012. From this national attention, what do you think in Chester needs to be done to try and promote the sport?
Paul: To be honest, Chester is not great for boxing, as in the support. If you actually go to what are often thought of relatively poorer areas around Birkenhead, and you go to their kids classes, I’m talking about 100 kids turning up, three times a week. Then when you go to Chester, a little bit posher, it’s not the same amount of kids coming into boxing. The reason why, I can’t answer that?
Rob: Is it an opportunity and way out for them to get off the street and to gain some self-respect and anything else that boxing brings?
Paul: I agree with that, if you look at a lot of the champions, they do come from rougher areas. Boxing traditionally was an upper class sport, so it’s a shame not to see it all over. We have boxing in Chester, but the shows do not sell out. Go over to Liverpool, I’ve been boxing in front of 4000 people. You see how many gyms there are in Liverpool. At the moment I’m the only professional boxer in Chester. It’s a bit disheartening that I don’t get the support but I’m here, I’m up there. I actually believe my fight at Aintree Racecourse, if you look at Boxrec, one of the main boxing websites, they actually rate my fight against Ankrah as top of the bill really. My fight has a higher rating than Roy Jones Jr. However, ticket wise, what I’ve sold, is nothing compared to the Liverpool fighters?
Rob: Do venues like Chester Racecourse and the Northgate Arena [both venues where Paul has fought previously] do enough for the city to support and host boxing?
Paul: I think the venues are OK. The fact of the matter is, twice we boxed there, and twice we didn’t fill it. We were lucky if we got 1000, until you fill those stadiums, there’s no point going to the bigger arenas.
Rob: Where do you see yourself in the next few years, are you looking to go for that Commonwealth fight?
Paul: I believe that Lewis Pettitt should win his title, I will win on the 12th and hopefully, next year, me and Lewis Pettitt will go for that Commonwealth title. If it’s not the Commonwealth, I will fight anyone for anything. I’m in the prime now – I’m not turning down fights now. It doesn’t matter who it is!
Rob: Is British boxing going through a renaissance period right now?
Paul: It’s flying at the moment. I think we’re up there with the Americans. The shows that have been on lately have been really competitive, and how many world champions are there? Commonwealth champions? World champions? I believe it’s at the best level it’s been at in a long time.
Rob: What would you say to readers is the best way to get into the sport?
Paul: Get down to Chester boxing gym! They have got to try it, boxing is not for everyone, you’ve got to love the sport, the day you don’t love the sport, you’ve got to get out of it, because you will get hurt You can’t do boxing half-heartedly, dedication to boxers is not just about the training, it’s about diet, the way you live your life. My friends go out for a drink, I can’t do that with them, they understand, and that’s the life I’ve chosen until I retire.
Rob: What are your interests and hobbies outside of boxing?
Paul: I’m boring haha! No I’m only kidding. It’s my family. I love spending time with my family. I work with fitness and personal training, so I’m happy to hear anything outside of boxing!
Rob: Do you train to any particular music?
Paul. Bit of everything! Steve Goodwin loves all his old stuff, we don’t have a choice, there’s a bit of Elvis on at the minute. I’m cool with anything!
Rob: Good luck with the fight and thanks for your time.
Paul: If anyone is interested in tickets they can get them from Chester Boxing Gym, or by contacting me on Twitter. (@PaulEconomides)
With thanks to Paul and interviewer @JournoRob and Noel Parsons. Paul would like to thank his sponsor for the fight @mediaoctopus